By Dr. Gary Song-Huann Lin
Representative of Taiwan to the Philippines Taipei Economic and Cultural Office
THE three-day Taiwan Expo 2017, which was held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City from September 29 to October 1, 2017, served as a catalyst for the Philippines and Taiwan to discover the importance of each other for their national development in the years to come.
Although Taiwan and the Philippines are the closest neighbors, they have long overlooked each other and are actually “neighboring strangers”.
Since 2004, for more than 13 years, Taiwan has never organized any large-scale exhibition in the Philippines and vice versa.
In order to implement the “New Southbound Policy,” TITRA and the Taiwan Association, Philippines, jointly organized the Taiwan Expo 2017.
The Taiwan Expo 2017 featured more than 240 booths by over 190 exhibitors from Taiwan’s public and private sectors showcasing around 4,500 products, services and technologies. It comprised eight pavilions: agricultural technology, urban marketing, cultural tourism, Taiwan education, health and lifestyles, general services, innovative technology and Taiwan enterprises in the Philippines.
The Taiwan Expo 2017 underlined by the Taiwanese products enjoying advantages in the local market are those in green technology, medical solution, aquaculture technology and agriculture technology.
Aside from the Taiwan Expo 2017, a Philippines-Taiwan Industrial Collaboration Summit was also held to explore opportunities of cooperation in the industries of green technology, industrial zone development, information and communication technology as well as machinery. During the summit, six collaboration MOUs were signed by the various industries and institutions.
Moreover, with the DOST-MOST science and technology pre-review meeting, bilateral cooperation will be expanded to the spheres of health, agriculture, artificial intelligence (AI), and start-ups, etc.
In the area of education, the Taiwan Expo 2017 has also marked a new milestone for the Taiwan-Philippines educational exchange and cooperation. Specifically, 21 Taiwan universities participated in the Taiwan Expo 2017event. As the Philippines increasingly requires highly educated talents to help drive its growing economy, the event served as an excellent opportunity to encourage young scholars to pursue tertiary education in Taiwan.
More importantly, as the Philippines has the biggest English-speaking population in Asean, and energetic and talented professionals, Taiwan’s Ministry of Education has pinpointed the Philippines, the “Shining Gem” and “Pearl of the Orient” in Asia, as being an important partner to Taiwan for educational cooperation.
To strengthen Philippine-Taiwan educational cooperation, Taiwan has set up an Education and Resource Center in Makati City functioning as a platform to facilitate exchanges in education and culture.
Further, a forum for various university presidents from Taiwan and the Philippines will be established and a new proposal on sending Filipino university lecturers and teachers to pursue further studies and doctoral degrees in Taiwan is underway. It is worth mentioning that Mr. Tyson Hsieh, a prominent Taiwanese community leader in the Philippines, has offered to provide50 round-trip air tickets for the Filipino scholars to travel to Taiwan for the above-mentioned purpose. Taiwan will also furnish more Taiwan scholarships for Filipino students to study in Taiwan.
Another good news is the announcement of visa-free treatment for all Philippine nationals. The visa-free entry to Taiwan has been approved by Premier William Lai of to allow Filipino citizens to enter Taiwan for 14 days stay as part of Taiwan government efforts to promote people-to-people exchanges and tourism between Taiwan and the Philippines. The effective date of the new visa-free program will be announced in due course.
To reciprocate Taiwan’s goodwill and welcome, Taiwan also urges the Philippine government and Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei to follow the principle of reciprocity and grant Taiwan nationals visa-free treatment or at least to improve its visa arrangements and reduce visa fees for Taiwan nationals.
In the time of a new era that is mixed with opportunity and uncertainty facing today’s world, let’s expand and strengthen multifaceted cooperation and partnership, including more people-to-people engagement and interaction. By doing so, we will become good neighbors and good friends. By working together, we can build our prosperous, inclusive and innovation-led economics. It is my vision and dream that, as the closest neighbors, we can build a living economic community in which we can travel freely and our bilateral relationship will grow from strength to strength in the coming years.